Thank you for expressing interest in this important initiative. The Commission now has momentum. Our initial approach canvassing support for the idea brought in 23 ‘eminent’ individuals from across the profession, who all agreed to sign a letter announcing the initiative to other fundraisers and interested parties. This was then sent to a further approx. 140 individuals. So far it’s achieved a 75+ per cent positive response, with more to come. Our ‘I’m in’ request now has over 160 people supporting the Commission with more registering every day. So it will now happen. £25,000 of sponsorship has already been pledged, with other applications being considered.

Martyn Lewis, CBE has agreed to chair the Commission. Giles Pegram CBE will be the vice chair. A broad and diverse list of potential candidates is now being assembled from which the remaining 10 commissioners will be chosen. Plans are in place to start recruiting a director, plus researcher/ assistant. Many sector bodies have given the Commission enthusiastic endorsement. We hope that the Institute of Fundraising will agree to locate this small secretariat in its offices. One of our sponsors has also offered meeting space in South London.

Because it has to be an independent commission with broad sector support focussing specifically on the donor experience, individual charities will not be asked to sign up nor will any special interest groups, suppliers or sector bodies be able to have any official affiliation to the Commission. We do hope that as many as possible of these organisations will contribute and help in other ways. The Commission hopes to capture the best sector experiences and practices in providing effective donor-centred fundraising. Our intention is to draw on existing research and already published or soon-to-be-published surveys (e.g. The Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy’s study into donor attitudes for their relationship fundraising project, plus other donor attitude surveys). The Commission may also undertake its own research, as resources permit.

The Commission is mentioned twice in encouraging terms in the report by Sir Stuart Etherington and his colleagues, Regulating fundraising for the future: Trust in charities, confidence in fundraising regulation.

‘We welcome therefore the proposal from senior fundraisers and academics to establish a ‘Commission on the Donor Experience’, with an emphasis on strengthening relationships between fundraising organisations and donors. And we welcome any move that shifts fundraising away from aggressive or pushy techniques and instead towards inspiring people to give and creating long-term, sustainable relationships.’

On page 12, the conclusion of the executive summary

‘The Review also supports the creation of a ‘Commission on the Donor Experience’, with the objective to increase both funds raised and donor satisfaction by appealing to the feelings, thoughts and desires of donors as well as emphasising the needs of the charity. The Commission will consider how donors can be put at the centre of fundraising strategies, by looking at how donors view and interact with fundraisers. Ultimately the aim is to building trust and confidence in the work that charities do and how they raise money.’

On page 50, under the heading, Further recommendations: re-establishing the relationship with donors

We are determined that the whole sector should own the Commission and its work, so as many people as possible will have the opportunity to have input. A detailed list covering the six main work areas against which the Commission will report will be available soon, on the Commission’s website. We have registered our website, though it’s not active yet.

The Commission is currently assembling an ‘enthusiasts’ group that we intend will act as an advisory and steering body, taking over many of the practical tasks of the Commission from the initiating group. A second group, the fundraising advisors, will be tasked with raising the funds the Commission will need to do its job. Other volunteers will be co-opted, as appropriate. Please do volunteer if you feel you can contribute to any of the Commission’s work areas.

We have also published two blogs announcing the Commission.

A consultation process is being started, and the full ‘areas of work’ document will go on the website for consultation soon as we can work out how to do that. Meanwhile, here’s the summary.

What will the Commission on the Donor Experience do? It will work in six main areas to turn a well-documented and accepted theory of donor-centred fundraising into consistent, sustainable practice. It will focus at least as much on what fundraisers should do, as what they shouldn’t. And it will consult widely and borrow heavily to achieve this.

  1. It will distil and define our best understanding of what donors want and how they feel.
  2. It will identify practical things fundraisers can do to ensure donors stay at the heart of all their actions.
  3. It will share and communicate that experience far and wide.
  4. It will ensure a better experience for new donors at and around the time of their first support.
  5. It will look at training and equipping all fundraisers to deliver the best practical donor experience. It will seek to define the skills, attributes and personal qualities they’ll need.
  6. It will consider not just the body of existing knowledge, but also what we don’t yet know – how we might innovatively reinvent the donor/cause relationship.

Any questions or offers of assistance please do get in touch. Thank you.

Please do continue to support the Commission as it takes shape. Its final output will only be as good as the inputs and guidance it gets from the breadth and depth of our sector’s creativity and experience in all these crucial areas.

Giles Pegram CBE/Ken Burnett 1st October 2015